For the first time in more than three decades, a member of the outer bar has floored two Senior Advocates of Nigeria to be elected as President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
Mr. Olumide Akpata, an expert in corporate and commercial law, defeated Babatunde Ajibade and Julius Adesina, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria in the election concluded on Thursday, July 30.
Akpata will succeed the outgoing NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), an Akwa Ibom son.
The election which was conducted via electronic voting began at 11 pm on Wednesday and ended by 11 pm on Thursday.
Akpata scored 9,891 votes out of a total of 18,256 voters who participated in the elections, representing 54.3% of the votes.
He defeated Dr. Babatunde Ajibade (SAN) who scored 4,328 and Dele Adesina (SAN) who polled 3,982.
Other winners who emerged in the elections are John O Aikpokpo-Martins as the first Vice President with 6,010 votes and Adeyemo Kazeem Debo as second Vice President with 8,794.
Others are Joyce Oduah as General Secretary; Nwadialo Esther Uchenna, Assistant Secretary; Mercy Ijato Agada, Treasurer; and Edun Olukunle, Welfare Secretary.
Anagor Raphael Nnamdi emerged as Financial Secretary; Nduka Rapuluchukwu Ernest (Ph.D.) as Publicity Secretary; and Naza Ferdinand Afam as Assistant Publicity Secretary.
Already, Akpata as a former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Section on Business Law, has been declared the president-elect of the Association.
The Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the NBA, Tawo Tawo (SAN), who made the declaration around 12:52 am on Friday says, Akpata scored the highest number of votes cast and satisfied the provisions of the NBA constitution.
“I, Tawo Tawo, the Chairman, Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA), as the electoral officer for the 2020 National Officers’ Election, hereby declare Akpata Olumide Anthony, having scored the highest number of votes cast and satisfied the provisions of the constitution of the NBA 2015 (as amended), the winner of the election into the office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association,” Tawo said.
The new officers of the association are expected to be sworn in at the forthcoming 60th annual general conference of the NBA holding virtually from the 26th to the 29th of August.
In a swift reaction to his victory at the polls, Mr. Olumide Akpata thanked his supporters and assured them that by the grace of God, transformational leadership would be witnessed in his administration.
In his words, “In 2 years from now, we would look back to this day with gratitude. We would say thank God that Olu became President. We would never regret this day. We would transform our association and the Bar will work for all”.
Alao Aka-Bashorun, widely regarded as one of the finest Presidents of the Bar and served from 1987 to 1989 during the repressive military regime of Ibrahim Babangida, was a non-senior advocate.
Other lawyers had used his example as a campaign weapon to wrest the leadership of the Association from the privileged class of senior advocates
The NBA elections are being conducted online where accredited members voted electronically, amid controversy of lack of transparency by notable activist lawyers like Chidi Odinkalu who accused the electoral committee of managing a rigged process.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ajibade, a contestant in the Nigerian Bar Association elections, has congratulated Mr. Akpata who emerged as the 30th President of our association.
In a statement personally signed by him on Friday, Ajibade said he was proud of the level of the debate and the quality of the ideas that were brought forth during the elections which held on the 29th and 30th of July, for the improvement of our association, the welfare of its members and the good of our society.
He, however, pointed out that the processes leading up to and during the election itself have not been devoid of controversy, while also expressing hope that the repeated challenges with conducting objectively free and fair elections in the association will be resolved.
“It is unfortunate that the process leading up to and during the election itself has, once again, not been devoid of controversy. It is my fervent hope that we will get over these repeated challenges with conducting objectively free and fair elections into the leadership positions in the association.
“I remain resolute in my belief that we cannot succeed in addressing the challenges confronting our profession unless we unite and I urge the incoming President and his executive to take deliberate and proactive steps to unite the Bar,” Ajibade said.
Speaking further, he thanked all those who supported his aspiration to be elected President of the association, noting that although they did not achieve the desired goal, the experience was rewarding and fulfilling.
“I say a heartfelt thank you to all the persons too numerous to mention, who supported my aspiration to be elected President of the Nigerian Bar Association.
“Though we did not get the result we wanted, the experience has been rewarding and fulfilling. I have met and established lasting bonds of friendship with colleagues from different parts of our great country Nigeria who share my values and aspirations for a better, stronger and united legal profession.
“To all those who sacrificed their time and resources, both material and otherwise, I owe a lasting debt of gratitude. I pray that God will reward each and every one of you.
“Thank you and God bless,” the statement read in part.